Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Black Gold' movie for Fairtrade Fortnight

I saw the film Black Gold last night, about the coffee trade, the exploitation of the third world farmers and how many of them turn to growing narcotics, because they make more money that way than growing coffee. The film was shown last night to launch Fairtrade Fortnight in Chelmsford and is on More4 tonight.

The film was a fascinating and disturbing insight into the coffee trade. The fairtrade arrangement delivers about 10% of the price we pay for coffee to the farmers; coffee that is not fairly traded usually sees the farmers only receiving around 2% of what we pay in our shops. Tellingly, none of the four largest coffee retailers in the world were willing to be interviewed for the film.

23 years after Live Aid, Ethiopia is still suffering badly. Africa is the only continent to have become poorer in that time. But the farmers interviewed were clear that they would much prefer trade not aid. Africa's share of world trade is only1%. If that was boosted to just 2%, that extra ($70 billion) would be FIVE times what Africa receives in aid. But they felt that the EU and the USA were more interested in protecting their markets.

The Chelmsford Star co-op has 20% off all their Fairtrade products during Fairtrade Fortnight (ends 9th March).

The film follows a leader of a farmer's co-operative as he tours the world seeking new buyers for their coffee. The film's website
The Fairtrade Foundation
Chelmsford Fairtrade Campaign


At 26 February, 2008 14:41, Blogger Tristan said...

Except Fair Trade keeps people in poverty (and reduces quality of coffee).


And no- that's not right wing loonies, Alex Singleton is a liberal who actually goes to talk to those affected.

Fair Trade won't help most of those farmers in Africa either, because they don't fall into the Fair Trade movements requirements for being a cooperative* and not increasing productivity through mechanisation.

Laudable aims often do not produce laudable results.

* Cooperatives are neither good nor bad in my view, but focusing on them at the expense of others as the Fair Trade corporation does is harmful to many more people.

At 27 February, 2008 11:58, Blogger Stephen Robinson said...

If a farmer gets $23 for a sack of coffee beans rather than $2 (the difference quoted in the film) is that not better?

The article cited talks of the need for African governments to free up trade for their own people. Very true, and the EU/US need to free up trade more. (They don't - or not quickly - because this would lose jobs in some home territory.)

Until then, surely the Fairtrade initiative is at least a step in the right direction? The scheme may have its faults - but no-one forces them to join a Fairtrade co-op; they could go on selling at much less!


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